Graft raps filed vs Defensor, mayor

FORMER Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada files on April 1, 2019 a graft complaint against Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. and Mayor Ligaya Apura of Lemery town.

FORMER Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada on April 1, 2019 filed a graft complaint against Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. and Mayor Ligaya Apura of Lemery town for alleged irregularities in the release of P1,480,015 for the repair and rehabilitation of five barangay roads.

In his six-page complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman in Iloilo City, Mejorada accused Defensor and Apura of the following:

  1. violation of Article No. 220 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for technical malversation;
  2. violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act;
  3. falsification of public documents under Article No. 171 of the RPC;
  4. grave misconduct;
  5. serious dishonesty;
  6. conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service

The first three charges are for the criminal aspect while the next three are administrative in nature.

The case stemmed from the P1,480,015 released to the Lemery municipal government under Mayor Ligaya Apura for the “gravelling, re-gravelling and rehabilitation” of five barangay roads.

The five recipient barangays and the corresponding funds are Layogbato – P280,347; San Diego – P265,684; Capiñahan – P256,128; Dapdapan – P478,584; and Marapal – P199,272.

Mejorada said the funds were charged or drawn against the MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) budget of the capitol, particularly for the repair and maintenance of infrastructure assets of Iloilo province, under Supplemental Budget No. 3, which was approved on Nov 6, 2018.

SB No. 3. otherwise known as Appropriation Ordinance No. 2018-04, is embodied in Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 2018-696, series of 2018.

Citing various issuances from the Department of Budget and Management and Commission on audit, Mejorada claimed that the fund transfer is illegal because the fund was intended for provincial roads, not barangay road like the ones in Lemery.

“It bears underscoring that barangay roads are not infrastructure assets of the Province of Iloilo, and for respondent Defensor to disburse public funds for the purpose of gravelling, re-gravelling and rehabilitation of the listed barangay roads is not the purpose stated or defined in Appropriation Ordinance No. 2018-004, series of 2018,” the complaint said.

Mejorada said that even if the appropriations ordinance authorizing the 2018 Supplemental Budget No. 3 allows the repair and maintenance of barangay roads, the municipality of Lemery is not the proper implementing agency but the Provincial Engineer’s Office.

As to the alleged falsification of public documents, Mejorada cited the memorandum of agreement for the fund transfer and the resolutions authorizing Defensor and Apura to sign the same.

Based on the agreement, Defensor was authorized to sign the pact by virtue of Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) Resolution No. 2018-696.

Apura, on the other hand, was authorized to sign the MOA by Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 82-2018.

Mejorada said both resolutions are spurious or false. In the case of Defensor, SP Resolution No. 2018-696 authorizes the 2018 Supplemental Budget No. 3 amounting to more than P98 million. But the resolution did not authorize the governor to sign an agreement for the Lemery fund transfer.

He also cited a certification from lawyer and SP secretary Raul Tiosayco saying that the provincial board did not authorize the governor to enter into an agreement with the Lemery municipal government for the fund transfer.

As to Apura’s authorization, Mejorada alleged that she made false representation when she claimed that she was authorized to sign the agreement by SB Resolution No. 82-2018.

But records from the Sangguniang Bayan of Lemery indicated that Apura was authorized to sign a MOA with the provincial government for the P1.4-million fund transfer through SB Resolution No. 2018-88.

Interestingly, the SB resolution was approved on December 27, 2018 or a week after she and Defensor signed the MOA.

SB Resolution No. 82-2018, on the other hand, referred to another fund transfer MOA for another set of barangays – Velasco, Anabo, Omio, Alcantara, Sinua, Buenavista, Nagsulang and Milan. The eight barangays received P1.9 million also for road repair and maintenance.

Mejorada also questioned the amount of money allocated to the recipient barangays ranging from P199,272 to P478,584.

He said the cost of fuel and lubricants and meals for the operators of heavy equipment used in the road repairs and maintenance “could not possibly have exceeded P20,000.00 for the bigger barangays and P10,000.00 for the smaller barangays, amounts that they could very well afford from their own MOOE.”